After the last group of Floridians left the M3 Coffee Shoppe, Red was curious why there was still a group of zombies hanging out around the front window looking inside. She spotted Zane Bradey and knew why. With a pair of cappuccinos in hand, she sat down to talk to him about time management, psychotherapy and Saturday morning television.
M3: Never mind the peanut gallery. Tell the M3 Readers who you are.
ZB: I was born and raised in Michigan, just outside of East Lansing, where I still live with my beautiful wife and six little zombies. Horror has always been my genre. I grew up waiting for the Saturday-morning creature feature. While other kids were watching Scooby-Doo, I was soaking up Vincent Price films. I like the new stuff, but I love the classics. I remember watching George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in black-and-white and thinking, That’s what I want to write!
M3: And you have! Is there anyone you want to thank?
ZB: My wife has always been extremely supportive. She’s had to listen to me rant about zombies for a long time. I couldn’t thank her enough for putting up with me and going out of her way to support my work. Carrie Murgittroyd, Joe Bossen II, and Christopher Wierenga have put their hearts and souls into the editing process for me. The network of indie authors I’ve had pleasure of working with through this process is too long to list, but Charity Parkerson and Martha Bourke definitely promote others far more than themselves.
M3: You are surrounded by support. Tell me more about your colleagues.
ZB: I suppose in my case that would mean other independent authors. The culture and community of indie authors is unlike anything I have ever seen. You’d think there would be an element of competition, people striving and clamoring for the same readers. It’s totally the opposite. Every bunch has its bad apples. I’ve found the author networks to be incredibly kind and helpful, both as groups and as individuals. A new author can log in to twitter for the first time and find someone willing to help with anything if they are willing to take advice and do the work themselves.
M3: It is work. How important is your own marketing to the success of your book?
ZB: Well, it’s all I do, so… it’s supremely important. I do 90% of my marketing on Twitter. I use Facebook, but it feels a little less personal for me. On Twitter, I have found it possible to have a lot of people following me and still have time to answer readers if they ask me a direct question. I have also networked with other successful authors, and they have helped me get my name out there. I’ve found that if you spend more of your time making a genuine effort to build up those around you, people spend more of their time building you up. You can’t do it alone.
M3: It is a two-way street. Have you had any triumphs over the traditional publishing industry?
ZB: I think sticking to my guns on Lillian’s List was a triumph. Whether or not it helped or hurt me remains to be seen. I’m happy with my decision either way.
M3: Sometimes, it can cost you. Has the economic state changed things for you?
ZB: Fortunately for me, the success of Aftereffects came in the form of a pleasant surprise and a bonus. I knew it was a good story with an original concept, but I had no idea that would catch on so quickly and do as well as it has. Because my income is not yet tied directly to my book sales, I haven’t had to experience that pressure. I’d give anything for writing to by my only vocation, but I can imagine how that could be a double-edged sword.
M3: Many authors say it is. Should the M3 Readers care about your day job?
ZB: Is this a lullaby? Then, no. The one aspect of my day job that has helped my writing is the fact that even though my role is HR/finance, it’s in a mental health setting. Being exposed to the psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers definitely helped me hone the idea for the cured zombies, causes and effects of the disease, and Dr. Frenzel’s methods. I did a lot of research on post traumatic stress disorder in order to depict the clients and their memories.
M3: I vote for yes, then! How do you find the time to write?
ZB: Very carefully. Like most independent authors, I have a real job. I also go to school full time (25 credits this semester) and have six children, ages 8, 6, 4, 3, 3, and 2. It’s a tough schedule right now. I usually work on school after the kids go to bed from 9pm to midnight and I write from 12am to…I’m going to lie and say 2am-ish, so my wife doesn’t kill me. Anything worthwhile takes dedication. Because I have so little time to work with, I get a lot more done when I do sit down at the keyboard.
M3: That is a testament to your determination. With all you have going on, do you ever go on hiatus?
ZB: My only hiatus would be to the restroom and even there, a dozen little hands would be banging at the door. I can go for hiatus when I’m dead.
M3: I sympathize with the lack of privacy. What do you have in the works?
ZB: I’m working on Aftereffects Book 2: The Zombie Clinic. Fans of the first book will be pleasantly surprised to see how I was able to preserve the format considering the ending of book one. I’ve also released Lillian’s List, a novel that couldn’t be any further removed from Aftereffects in both genre and content. Like all authors, I have a folder named “other projects” that contain my mad brain-storming ideas for future books.
M3: Let’s talk shop. Do you think the traditional publishing industry looks down on Indie work as inferior?
ZB: Yes. In some cases, it’s because it is inferior. Too many authors don’t have anyone edit or proofread and simply click “submit.” Other times, it’s because they are intimidated by the fact that a small band of rebels are cutting into the profit margin. They’ve seen the movies. Small bands of rebels can wreak a lot of havoc.
M3: Especially undead rebels. Any bone in particular you have to pick with the brick and mortar?
ZB: I think we all know that the publishing industry is old, clunky and has many elements of a good ol’ boy network. I’m an independent author, and I say that with pride, but I’m not certain that the self-publishing model we have now is a viable long term solution. With all the subpar, unedited work that people are peddling on Amazon for $0.99, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for readers to sort out what’s worth spending their time on and what isn’t. I can’t imagine the industry or the consumers will tolerate that forever.
M3: I have my theories on what would change that, but this is your interview. How did you get started in this publishing industry madness?
ZB: There’s an industry? Just kidding. I wrote a full-length literary fiction novel that made it through all the hoops at a mid-sized publisher, and they rejected it at the end. He withdrew the offer because I wouldn’t rewrite the pastor of the church as a male character. Best thing that could have ever happened at the time. I learned a lot from it, and it inspired me.
M3: What does not kill us makes us stronger! What is something you would probably rather I not tell the M3 Readers?
ZB: I can’t punctuate. Not at all. There are either five million commas or zero. I abuse the ellipses to the point that the period on my keyboard cringes when I’m near. I always say that if it weren’t for my editors, I’d be a writer instead of an author. Also, my real name is Bradley Salters. I don’t try to keep it a huge secret, but I’m sure not everyone knows.
M3: I think the comma affliction is nearly as epidemic as zombies. Have any advice for the budding authors in the M3 Readers?
ZB: Talk about the blind leading the blind! From one newbie to another, it’s important to be genuine. If you’re phony, whether it’s face-to-face or over social media, it won’t take long for people to catch on. People will help you with your weakness if you don’t fabricate your strengths. As people read your work and begin to respond to it, interact with them. Answer their questions on whatever social media platform you have established. If you’re too busy to reply to readers who have taken time to provide feedback, do whatever it takes to find time for it.
ZB: Normally, when we are reading about the pockets of survivors in apocalyptic fiction, the Statue of Liberty’s arm is lying on the ground. However, since the cure is administered and the pandemic is stopped, the real devastation that my book touches on is the psychological aspect of an event like this.
In Aftereffects, the survivors have a sense of hope that the world could return to “normal” if they can get past the fact that a lot of them killed people while they were infected, in many cases their loved ones. They have to face a past full of guilt and accountability that your average zombie apocalypse novel doesn’t really deal with.
M3: Definitely a psychological twist which fits into M3! What makes Aftereffects close to your heart?
ZB: I grew up on the classics. On Saturday mornings, after the cartoon marathon, they had a show called the “Creature Feature” that showed different horror films each week. I spent my childhood watching Vincent Price and the great black & white thrillers of the past. I saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead when I was very young. I certainly can’t compare myself to those people, but I hope the fact that I draw inspiration from them shows in my work.
M3: I think it does. Put on your agent’s hat. Tell the M3 Readers in 15 words or less why they should buy your book.
ZB: Originality. Apocalyptic fiction has never touched on a cure for zombies and the possible aftereffects.
M3: No, it hasn’t. Look forward to seeing you when the second one is out.
Dearest M3 Readers,
Please take a few moments to check out Zane Bradey and Aftereffects: Zombie Therapy from the Case Files of Dr. Victor Frenzel, Zombie Psychiatrist. Visit Zane’s blog to learn more about the author and his books. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on his upcoming books.
Thank you for your continual support of the talented M3 Coffee Shoppe authors. When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #authors, #books and #WW.